Reinventing a Classic Chair
Curves and cane anchor a radical revision of the planter's chair
Synopsis: Traditionally, the planter’s chair has a woven seat that curls from seat to back on a smooth curve. The design typically is rather chunky, with flat. level arms and stock rear legs. In redesigning the chair for a client who wanted a more refined look, Christopher Solar used bent lamination to keep the parts light, with simple, continuous lines from back to matching ottoman. Solar fleshed out his design in SketchUp, made a mockup from MDF to test the comfort of the chair, and was soon on his way to building the version shown here.
A few years ago I was approached by a new client who wondered if I would be able to make her a set of plantation, or planter’s, chairs. She said she’d always liked them but had been searching for something, “more refined … less country kitsch, more Japanese.” At the time I honestly had no idea what a planter’s chair was, but since this sounded like my ideal design brief I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
A little research told me that the essential aspect of this style of chair is a woven seat that curls from seat to back in a single, smooth curve. In keeping with my client’s direction and my own aesthetic, I sought to strip away anything heavy or excessively ornamental and keep the focus on those flowing lines. I did quick pencil sketches to try a few different ideas, then moved to the computer to refine the design in 3-D.
Where the traditional chairs (see photo, p. 22) typically have chunky curves sawn from solid wood, I used bent lamination to keep my parts light. Planter’s chairs often have flat, level arms connected to the seat back, and stocky rear legs under the seat.…